Snowpack news: Roaring Fork Watershed snowpack is now at 133% of normal #COdrought

USACE: Moffat Collection System final EIS to be released on April 25 #ColoradoRiver

Denver Water's collection system via the USACE EIS
Denver Water’s collection system via the USACE EIS

Here’s the release from the US Army Corps of Engineers:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, has announced April 25, 2014 for the release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project. At this time the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the Final EIS, which will in turn be considered prior to final decision-making by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Final EIS and public comments, will serve as a basis for the Corps’ decision on whether to issue or deny a Section 404 Permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir, located in Boulder County, Colo. The Corps is charged with the responsibility of impartially reviewing Denver Water’s proposal in light of environmental and other Federal laws.

A year ago, the Corps had tentatively predicted that the Final EIS would be released in February 2014, however, due to further agency coordination, and a request from Denver Water to work with stakeholders to further refine a mitigation plan to present in the EIS, the schedule was extended.


Through the Moffat Collection System Project, Denver Water proposes to meet its water supply obligations and provide a more reliable supply infrastructure, while advancing its environmental stewardship. The project intends to enlarge the existing 41,811-acre foot Gross Reservoir to 113,811 AF, which equates to an expanded water surface area from 418 acres to 842 acres. Using existing collection infrastructure, water from the Fraser River, Williams Fork River, Blue River and South Platte River would be diverted and delivered to Denver’s existing water treatment system during average and wet years.

In June 2012, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the president use his authority to coordinate federal agencies to work together more effectively and expeditiously to release a Final EIS. Cooperating agencies involved in the EIS include the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Division, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Grand County.

To remain up-to-date on the progress of the final report, please visit our Web site at:

Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

NRCS February 1, 2014 Colorado Basin Outlook Report — snowy and wet finale to January #COdrought

February 1, 2014 snowpack by sub-basin via the NRCS
February 1, 2014 snowpack by sub-basin via the NRCS

Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:


Colorado typically receives 20 percent of its snowpack in January, but this year, after a great start to the snow season it seemed as though January might disappoint. From January 15th to 27th snow accumulation statewide was almost nil, but thankfully winter storms during the last week of the month brought a snowy and wet finale. The entire state reaped the benefits of the late January storms. The northern and central mountains received enough snow to push snowpack reports back to above normal totals. In the southern part of the state the moisture was especially welcome since the region had received very little snow since early December. The storms improved snowpack percentages in this region but it was not enough for them to reach normal conditions. Water storage in the state has improved over the past month but statewide totals are still tracking slightly below average for this time of year. Storage in the southwest, Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas basins remains well below average. With only 40 percent of the winter snow accumulation season remaining, water managers in these regions should pay close attention to the weather patterns over the next couple months in order to make informed decisions concerning their water supplies.


Data collected from manual snow courses and automated SNOTEL sites across Colorado showed an overall increase in the snowpack during January. Statewide snowpack totals were 107 percent of median as of February 1. Looking beyond statewide totals, the data vividly shows the variability between the northern and southern part of the state. The combined San Juan (Animas, Dolores, San Miguel and San Juan) basins has declined from 100 percent of median on January 1 to 82 percent as of February 1. The Upper Rio Grande basin’s snowpack has also decreased since last month’s report; dropping from 99 percent of median on January 1 to 82 percent of median on February 1. The Arkansas basin saw a slight improvement in it’s snowpack from 105 percent to 108 percent of median, but this was mostly a result of the Upper Arkansas jumping from 92 percent to 119 percent of median. The snowpack in the lower reaches of the basin had significant decreases this month. The South Platte basin had the most notable gain in snowpack totals during January, with an increase from 99 percent of median to 126 percent of median as of February 1.


Statewide monthly SNOTEL precipitation totals were 117 percent of median for January, but three basins fell short of the “normal” mark for the month. The Gunnison basin recorded 92 percent of average for monthly precipitation and was at 97 percent for year-to-date precipitation as of February 1. The combined San Juan basins only recorded 59 percent of normal precipitation for the month, and year-to-date precipitation dropped to 87 percent of average. The Upper Rio Grande basin recorded monthly totals at 57 percent of average which dropped year-to-date precipitation to 82 percent of average. The remaining basins all recorded above average precipitation for the month of January. The Colorado and the South Platte basins both received well above average precipitation at 152 percent and 183 percent respectively.

Reservoir Storage

Colorado’s reservoir storage volumes are slightly below average for this time of year. Statewide storage was 90 percent of average at the end of January, which is a major improvement over the 69 percent of average reported last year at the same time. Both the South Platte and Yampa/White basins are reporting above average storage levels, at 111 percent and 112 percent respectively. The Colorado basin is currently storing water at near normal levels; 98 percent of average as of January 31. While the remaining basin’s storage volumes are all below average currently, current volumes are improvements compared to last year’s for this same date. The Arkansas basin has the lowest storage volumes as a percent of average, at 64 percent of average and 25 percent of capacity. The Upper Rio Grande is also storing well below normal amounts of water; storage was 65 percent of average at the end of January.


This month’s streamflow forecasts for the spring and summer season follow the trends observed in the snowpack reports. Near to above normal runoff is predicted for the Yampa/White, Colorado, Gunnison, South Platte and Upper Arkansas basins. Overall the February 1 forecasts in these regions have improved compared to those issued last month. Most forecasts in these areas are slightly above normal. Spring runoff in the combined San Juan basins is now expected to be around 80 percent of normal, all current forecasts in these basins have declined from last month’s. In the Upper Rio Grande basin the forecasts have also decreased from those issued last month, with larger decreases as you move from the headwaters of the basin to the southern tributaries. The forecasts for the downstream tributaries of the Arkansas basin have also dropped compared to last month’s in contrast to the improvements in the headwaters region mentioned above.

The BLM is accepting comments for the the proposed Gore Canyon Whitewater Park

Gore Canyon rafting via
Gore Canyon rafting via

From the Glenwood Springs Independent:

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on its environmental assessment of the proposed Gore Canyon Whitewater Park at the Pumphouse Recreation Site on the upper Colorado River.

Grand County was recently awarded historic water rights for constructing this water park. The county has submitted a right of way application with the BLM to build the feature across the full width of the river upstream of the Pumphouse boat launch 2.

The feature consists of engineered boulders and block-like concrete objects placed across the stream channel that are not visible at normal flows and allow for fish passage at all flow rates. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.

“The project would provide a unique recreational experience for the 60,000-70,000 people that visit the area each year,” said BLM Kremmling Field Manager Stephanie Odell. “It would also provide permanent protection for water flows supporting recreational floatboating.”

Developing a recreational in-channel diversion below Gore Canyon implements part of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement among Denver Water and more than 30 Western Slope entities.

The BLM is writing an environmental assessment of the proposal that addresses multiple alternatives for the waterpark’s location and construction.

A copy of the preliminary environmental assessment, including maps, is available at BLM will accept written public comments through Feb. 28.

Comments should be addressed to Annie Sperandio, Realty Specialist, Kremmling Field Office, P.O. Box 68, Kremmling, CO 80459.

More whitewater coverage here.